Mohave Power Plant in Nevada to Close as Expected
LOS ANGELES – Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison
International, on Thursday filed a notice with the California Public
Utilities Commission that said it would shut the 1,580-megawatt coal-fired
Mohave power plant in Laughlin, Nevada.
The move was widely expected. Southern California Edison signed a consent
decree with environmental groups in 1999 that the 34-year-old plant would
shut by the end of 2005 unless substantial anti-pollution upgrades were
made. Those upgrades were not made.
The plant will shut for about four years, Southern California Edison told
the California PUC. That time frame was also widely expected by the power
SCE said it would keep working to modify the consent decree but
environmental groups said the company has had six years to fix one of the
dirtiest plants in America.
The shutdown is a victory for residents of southwestern Nevada, said Rob
Smith, Southwestern representative of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club,
the Grand Canyon Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association got
together in the mid-1990s to take Mohave’s owners to court, leading to the
1999 consent decree.
“As of the new year, Mohave Valley residents and Grand Canyon visitors can
breathe easier because Mohave’s owners chose to shut down their old
polluting plant,” Smith said in a statement.
SCE linked the estimate of being shut for four years to negotiations with
Hopi and Navajo tribes on coal and water rights in Arizona. In a unique
arrangement, Peabody Energy Corp., the biggest non-government coal company
in the world, mines coal on tribal land in Arizona and then crushes it
into a slurry that runs on a 273-mile pipeline to the Mohave plant in
Water used to make the slurry comes from the Navajo Aquifer in Arizona,
but the tribes say this water supply is being depleted and is too valuable
to continue using for the slurry. Negotiations involving the tribes are
under way to get water for the slurry in a second aquifer, also on tribal
land in Arizona.
Mohave “violated its pollution limits over 400,000 times between
1993-1998,” leading up to the consent decree, the environmental groups’
“Because the maximum fine for each violation is $27,500, the maximum
potential penalty was $10 billion. After intensive negotiations, the
owners and the conservation groups signed a consent decree in 1999, which
provided six years for the plant to install pollution controls or
shutdown, allowing sufficient time to not only install the controls but
also to negotiate new coal and water contracts with the Navajo and Hopi
tribes and with Peabody,” the statement said.
The closing of the plant and the coal mine will mean the Hopi and Navajo
will have even more unemployment, which is more than 50 percent now,
tribal leaders have said.
In addition to So Cal Ed’s 56-percent ownership of the Mohave station,
owners are the Salt River Project (20 percent), Las Vegas-based Sierra
Pacific Resources Corp.’s Nevada Power Co. (14 percent) and the Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power (10 percent).
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE